In the never-ending quest for new ideas, sometimes it makes sense to return to simple things. The posts in Dance & The Elements, an ongoing series for the month of June, take a look at how dance companies have used the elements to create some extraordinary work. This week, just days before Summer Solstice, when many of us are already thinking about ways to beat the summer heat, it’s all about water.
Pilobolus has long been a favorite dance company, not just because they are from my home turf (Connecticut) but because they are one of the most creative dance companies on the planet. They’re known for their weird name (they are named after a fungus), super-human feats of strength, and the continued quest to do the unexpected on stage.
When I saw them a few years ago, they performed a piece called “Day Two”, where the dancers came up with the curtain call to end all curtain calls: sliding across the stage on a surface strip suddenly filled with water. (See this video here). The dancers had so much fun with it I felt like kicking myself for limiting my dance career to ballet.
Of course you have to wonder about all the cleanup…those poor techies. What about the setup? It can’t be easy to coordinate adding water to a performance (and it must involve lots and lots of plastic), but it brings a surreal quality to the movement.
No one understood this better than dance pioneer Pina Bausch. Her dance company, Tanztheater Wuppertal, was (and still is) known for its cutting-edge choreography, always interwoven with the fantastic…and theatric. In her own words, “I’m not interested in how people move, but what moves them.” Learn more about her through Wim Wenders’s documentary about her, “Pina.”
Don’t you feel cooler after watching this? Happy Summer!